NCAAB Underdog Picks: Trio Of High Priority Plays For Thursday

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, January 28, 2016 4:57 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 4:57 PM UTC

Our college basketball expert Ross Benjamin has gone 6-3-1 ATS the last four betting days with his underdog NCAA basketball picks. Go inside for Thursday’s three best plays.

Iowa vs. Maryland 7:00 PM ET
These are two of the best teams not only in the Big Ten, but the entire country. Iowa is currently ranked #3 and Maryland comes in at #8 according to the AP Poll. Current NCAA basketball odds list Maryland as a 5.5 point favorite for tonight’s showdown.

Maryland is coming off an unimpressive performance in their last game, suffering a decisive loss at Michigan State. The Terrapins have now gone 2-2 in its previous four games. One of those two wins came in overtime at home against Northwestern in a game they closed as a sizable 12.0 points favorite. Needless to say, the current stretch for Maryland hasn’t been scintillating in what has been otherwise a stellar season so far.

You’d be hard pressed to find a hotter team than Iowa right now, and especially so when taking into consideration the level of competition they’ve faced. The Hawkeyes have gone 13-1 in its last fourteen games, and enter tonight on a nine game win streak. Their only loss in that sequence came at #14 Iowa State by a narrow margin of 82-81, and they easily covered that contest as a 7.5 point underdog. Recently they captured a pair of impressive road wins against #12 Michigan State by 17 points and versus #21 Purdue by 7. Iowa was a substantial 9.0 point underdog in each of those games. The Hawkeyes know how to win on the road versus quality opponents, and have been unfazed when playing in hostile environments like they’ll be encountering tonight.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Iowa +5.5 
Best Line Offered: at The Greek


Cincinnati vs. Connecticut 7:00 PM ET
I just don’t like the way Connecticut has looked recently, and specifically on the offensive end. They’ve shot a miserable 38.3% from the field over its previous six contests. The Huskies have been able to overcompensate for that flaw with its excellent defensive play. However, sooner or later their offensive shortcomings will cost them if it doesn’t improve. On a positive note, Connecticut has been adept at getting to the free throw line recently. During its last five outings, they averaged 24 free throw attempts per game, and converted on an excellent 80.8% of those tries. They’ll be hard pressed to reach that type of volume tonight against an opponent (Cincinnati) which has allowed only 16 free throw attempts per game in its last five contests.

Cincinnati has sustained six losses this season, but four of those defeats have come by exactly 2 points. Saying that the Bearcats are better than even its current record indicates can certainly be interpreted as a credent observation. That’s even more apparent when factoring in the quality of opponents those narrow defeats came against. The Bearcats have shot the ball extremely well in its last two games (51.2%). Although their defensive play has slacked off a bit recently, they’ve still held opponents to only 39.3% shooting this season.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Cincinnati +2.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


UL-Monroe vs. UT-Arlington 8:00 PM ET
I’m beginning to wonder if Arlington had reached its apex a bit too early. That remains to be seen. However, I do know they’ve dropped two of their last three games. Arlington has also struggled offensively in recent outings, shooting a terrible 38.2% in its last five appearances.

UL-Monroe is the poster team for being Jekyll and Hyde in terms of home/away splits. They’ve been brutal on the road, but are a perfect 7-0 (5-0 ATS) at home, and have won by an average 21.4 points per game. Much of their success at home can be attributed to its offensive execution. Monroe has shot a sizzling 53.6% from the floor, converted on an outstanding 41.2% of its three point attempts, and made 77.6% of their free throws at home.

Despite the disparity in records between these two teams, I like the home underdog value for one of my NCAA basketball picks on Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: UL-Monroe +3.5 
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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